Texas Man Separated From Husband This Holiday Season Due to U.S. Law
Binational Same-Sex Couples to Congress: “Enact LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform!”
SAN ANTONIO, TX — As Americans across the country prepare Thanksgiving dishes and celebrate the holiday with family, some Americans are forced to observe the holiday alone — separated from their loved ones by U.S. law. Art, an American citizen, and Stuart, a citizen of the United Kingdom, are just one example of a couple struggling to stay together despite an unfair and unjust combination of U.S. marriage and immigration laws.
For over 36,000 binational same-sex couples, holidays are times of sadness and loneliness, as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans are prohibited from sponsoring their same-sex partner for immigration purposes by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Despite the White House’s refusal to defend the law in court, Congressional Republicans have spent $1.5 million defending the law in 14 pending cases — hitting the spending limit set forth with the approval of the Committee on House Administration (link).
This holiday season, GetEQUAL and Out4Immigration are publishing the stories of just a few of the thousands of couples directly impacted by this discriminatory law, and who could be immediately helped by passing an LGBT-inclusive comprehensive immigration reform bill. Recently, Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate have talked about introducing a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the new Congressional session — and tens of thousands of couples’ lives hang in the balance as those negotiations begin.
Below is the story of Art and Stuart, a couple united by love but divided by law:
Married But Separated – Art and Stuart
I am a music teacher in San Antonio, Texas, and have spent much of my life developing a mastery of the piano, the organ, and the voice. I also love computers and online social networks, which is where I ultimately met my [now] husband, Stuart Metcalfe(-LeSieur).
Three years ago, I found Facebook — and thus a limitless opportunity to meet all sorts of people from all over the world. I was just coming out as a gay man and found the freedom of Facebook to be an incredibly powerful way to explore my emerging identity. As I waded through new Facebook friends, one in particular caught my attention — Stuart. I watched a video he had posted to Facebook — complete with charming British accent, which I immediately recognized after having been stationed in the United Kingdom while in the military. He was putting himself down for how he looked on camera, and I wrote back to affirm how great the video was — beginning an ongoing conversation of texts, chats, emails, and eventually Skype.
The first time we Skyped, I was so nervous and flustered that the only thing I could manage to get out was, “Hi! I like Monty Python!” Stuart was patient with me, suggesting that I might want to check out some more updated forms of British humor — and thus we began a friendship based in humor and deep conversations about nearly everything under the sun. As I went through a painful divorce that summer, Stuart was one of my biggest emotional supports — and my family soon welcomed him into the fold through Skype sessions of their own.
We continued to navigate our emerging relationship and tried to cobble together the money to see and talk with one another across the distance. I had never thought about the lengths that binational same-sex couples go to in order to be with one another, and the stress that adds to new — and even seasoned — relationships. We finally uttered the “L” word to one another — declaring our love even as Stuart was traveling in Egypt and I was in South Texas. When Stuart visited me in San Antonio soon thereafter, I dropped to one knee and asked him to marry me. He said yes, and we spent the next 19 months trying to figure out how to navigate the process of getting married in the United States and building a life here with my children.
My parents gave their blessing whole-heartedly and we married in my hometown in Massachusetts by a long-time friend of the family. Stuart can only visit the U.S. twice a year for about three weeks at a time, and we have no mechanism for him to move here permanently as long as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is in place. His visits here require massive overtime work from him in order to afford each trip and to build up vacation days to spend with me. Those visits are met with great anticipation but, even with the joy of his arrival, there is always a looming sadness that the clock is ticking until his departure. Each time I drop him off at the airport, it’s like having my entire being ripped out of my body. Losing my spouse for such long periods of time tears me apart spiritually and emotionally — our home runs so beautifully when our children have two loving fathers physically at home, but I become overwhelmed when I return again to being a single father.
Despite being legally married in the state of Massachusetts, we cannot apply for a spousal visa so that Stuart and I can build a life together here in the United States. No marriage should have to endure this kind of stress and separation simply because of a discriminatory law. We’re simply asking for a chance to be together and to share the same civil rights that our friends, neighbors, and family enjoy. Holidays are especially difficult — it’s hard to decorate the house or enjoy the season when I’m longing for the day I can wake up early on a holiday morning to share a cup of coffee with my husband. Until the day that we truly see equal protection under the law for all, I’m left holding that cold cup of coffee alone — longing for the warm and loving home that my husband and I deserve.